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Operation Narwhal - Analysis thread

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  • #16
    How much use was made of paratroops by the Germans? I know that there was Portsmouth, which failed spectacularly.

    IIRC, the Germans only tried one large parachute attack in the entire RL war - Crete.
    Silent Hunter UK
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    • #17
      Originally posted by Silent Hunter View Post
      How much use was made of paratroops by the Germans? I know that there was Portsmouth, which failed spectacularly.
      Just Portsmouth - our game's equivalent of Arnhem, really.

      On about turn 20 some more paratroops became available but they were never used, because there was never a clear operational use for them and also because air transport was increasingly hazardous with the revival of the RAF.
      My board games blog: The Brass Castle

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      • #18
        Thanks. That's very interesting.
        Silent Hunter UK
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        • #19
          Originally posted by The Land View Post
          I will post more thoughts later on, but what do you guys think?
          .
          I followed this with interest. Overall the scenario designers gave the German side some rediculously ahistorical advantages while penalizing the British side with some equally rediculous ahistorical disadvantages. Still the German side lost.

          As always logistics decided this one. Once the German supply line was cut, it was over.

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          • #20
            Yup. The LW seemed a bit too adept at sinking the destroyers and light cruisers considering the lack of proper training, munitions and aircraft. I also question the ability to land the tonnage of supplies required for such a large army in the available ports. None of the ports in the southeast from brighton to Dover are what anyone can consider "large", oftern nothing more than a single wodden jetty) and they would have been easily wrecked. How heavy gear was going to be unloading without heavy lift cranes and wharves is something of a mystery.

            Yet somehow the Germans were off-loading entire panzer divisions, their kits, support and supplies within days of capture. Very dodgy indeed.

            But, as The Land noted, this game was not based on the actual history but on a "design" balnced to give the Germans a chance at success. There wouldn't be much point in gaming out the actual historical situation as it simply have resulted in chaos and disaster in the Channel for the German invasion forces.
            The Purist

            Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by The Purist View Post
              None of the ports in the southeast from brighton to Dover are what anyone can consider "large", oftern nothing more than a single wodden jetty) and they would have been easily wrecked.
              I'd call Dover and Folkestone pretty large facilities.
              Silent Hunter UK
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              • #22
                Originally posted by The Purist View Post
                Yup. The LW seemed a bit too adept at sinking the destroyers and light cruisers considering the lack of proper training, munitions and aircraft. I also question the ability to land the tonnage of supplies required for such a large army in the available ports. None of the ports in the southeast from brighton to Dover are what anyone can consider "large", oftern nothing more than a single wodden jetty) and they would have been easily wrecked. How heavy gear was going to be unloading without heavy lift cranes and wharves is something of a mystery.

                Yet somehow the Germans were off-loading entire panzer divisions, their kits, support and supplies within days of capture. Very dodgy indeed.

                But, as The Land noted, this game was not based on the actual history but on a "design" balnced to give the Germans a chance at success. There wouldn't be much point in gaming out the actual historical situation as it simply have resulted in chaos and disaster in the Channel for the German invasion forces.
                The reason in this game why the LW may have appeared too adept at sinking ships is that we would use every aircraft available against any RN presence. What this did was delay the inevitable cut in supply lines, but blunted our land attacks, resulting in a game that lasted longer than would have probably happened, but with the same likely end result.

                Still our opponents played a solid defence so well done to them .
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                • #23
                  We all successfully avoided the game turning into a discussion of historical what-ifs - thank heavens - but some clarity about what was historical and what wasn't is probably helpful.

                  There were quite a few areas which were judgement calls, and also quite a few where the TOAW engine didn't lend itself to historical authenticity. But on the whole the game scenario was, of course, massively favourable to the Germans. Even if you say "well, what if Germany won the Battle of Britain, had no naval losses in the Norwegian campaign, and planned a bit better for invading England in 1940?" the scenario still turns out to be a bit too favourable for the invasion. And it still ended up as a scenario that seems much easier to win as the UK.

                  What was historical?

                  There were some areas where the scenario design was reasonably historical (at least for the standards of a division-scale computer game - painstaking academic history this is not). The original scenario from TOAW3 had some good elements, I did some more work, and the places I was fairly happy with are:

                  - the British and German land OOBs (probably these were the most authentic part of the whole game, as division and regiment structures are well-recorded and can be modelled in great detail in TOAW)
                  - the German Air OOB and the Bomber Command OOB
                  - the British Naval OOB (though this involved a fair bit of judgement as to when certain historical ships would be available for ahistorical invasion duties).
                  - the replacement rates - not researched in detail, but there were indeed severe equipment shortages for the British Army, and the British aviation industry did indeed produce more single-seat fighters than Germany did in Summer 1940.

                  Where were deliberate changes made to make the game more balanced?

                  - the German naval OOB - I included German ships which historically were unavailable on 9th September 1940 (though I turned down a request from the German team to recommission Schleisen and Schleswig-Holstein, and to recall the "pocket battleships")
                  - the RAF OOB - I moved the whole of 11 Group out of Kent and Sussex and took them out of action on Turn 1, to reflect a scenario of the Luftwaffe winning the Battle of Britain.
                  - the German logistics. Described in detail in some posts in the German thread. The Channel was an obstacle, German shipping capacity for transport and supply was limited, unloading space on beaches and ports was a factor in the game. However there is little doubt in my mind that both crossing the channel and unloading on the other side would have been a much bigger challenge in history than in the game. Also the game abstracted shipping capacity in such a way that even if two divisions were completely lost at sea there were no knock-on effects on German sealift capacity in subsequent turns.
                  - Stukas were modelled as highly effective anti-shipping weapons, though this unlikely to have been the case as The Purist points out.
                  - Germany had Amphibious Tank formations in the game, while they tried to develop these historically I gather the results were actually very poor.

                  Where did the game system yield ahistorical results like it or not?

                  - there were no submarines or naval mines in the game at all.. This reduced the flexibility of both navies, though since these are basically defensive weapons the overall advantage here was to Germany
                  - the naval combat model in TOAW3 is very poor. There was probably a net advantage to Germany from this as there were too many occasions where a handful of destroyers could beat off a RN battleship squadron.
                  - it was somewhat too easy to "dig in" (TOAW models this by looking at the number of engineers in a division, but doesn't adjust this for the length of a turn). This was a bit of an advantage for the British who were largely on the defensive.
                  - there was no RADAR, nor was there any effect on British fighter efficiency when the Germans captured the radar stations. These two effects probably balanced out.
                  - British production and supply were unaffected by German territorial gains. This wasn't a huge factor in this game as the German team didn't take anything of particular economic value.
                  - morale was absent as a factor. What would the effect on the German Army have been of seeing whole divisions lost at sea? What would the effect on the Royal Navy have been of one highly effective air raid, if these things occurred? This is a fairly imponderable factor and could perhaps have swung either way.
                  My board games blog: The Brass Castle

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                  • #24
                    Good post.

                    I wouldn't worry about the lack of mines for both sides. Since both deployed fairly efficient minesweeping forces the actual warships would have been protected. Mines are countered by minesweepers. Large merchant convoys would probably be a different matter as history tells us. Often it was the scattered aerial mines that caught the merchant vessels unawares but this too would be very hard to mimic in the game.

                    Submarines might have been effective at night but considering the nature of the Channel these vessels would be hard pressed to be effective in the shallow waters and shoals. Good for scouting and tracking movement but highly at risk if they got too aggressive.
                    The Purist

                    Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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                    • #25
                      Good analysis from you guys, but a couple of things stand out as glaring mistakes-

                      Submarines are not defensive weapons, and when used as such they have always been failures, sometimes incredible failures. They are OFFENSIVE weapons in every sense, and damn good ones.

                      Every argument that the invasion would have failed is based on the assumption that a surface fleet can operate freely in hostile airspace. Altho that is indeed the assumption in 1940,Crete and Malaya prove otherwise. If two German Divisions could do what they did in Crete with no naval support at all.... bleh, forget it. ____ the whole round and round that never has and never will stop.

                      Once again, the total inability of a game system or the players to take German Operational-level warfare into account gives us Panzer Divisions that work like heavily-armed infantry Divisions, instead of all-arms units built around the mobility of the tank.
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                      • #26
                        And I'm going to agree with the Land that the chief ahistorical issue that screwed the Germans entirely was the insanely fast ability of the Brits to fortify. Only in a couple of extremely small cases were the Panzer and Motor divisions able to operate as such, because it seemed that the British divisions simply stepped back from Eben Emael to Dryant. Every Hex was a fortress, which made every attack a grinding assault to break through it. Historically, the Brits would have been heavily entrenched on one line, and there might be a second one farther back, but in no way was everything south of London fortified to the extreme seen in the game.

                        I don't think the Germans could have reached the objective regardless. However, I do think that the mission to break through in the West and encircle London could have been a success had this ridiculous fortification speed not been there.
                        Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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                        • #27
                          I agree the fortification speed was a pain, but it wasn't a killer factor, because...

                          - I tried to reduce its impact by forbidding "ignore losses" orders to fortified units in most cases.
                          - fortification isn't the whole story of why the British succeeded on the defensive; they also had enough troops to prepare fallback positions along their loc, and they used their armoured reserve very vigorously against every attack in the manner of a German Firebrigade formation later in the war. No idea whether that use of armour had any place in British doctrine at the time, but it did work.
                          - also, of course, both sides used too-rapid fortification: this meant that the flanks of the German advance and the position around London were rather more solid than they ought to have been, freeing up more troops for the attack.

                          Exorcist - actually in the game the Royal Navy was for a very long time denied operational freedom in the Channel for precisely that reason. If it hadn't been for the attrition of the Luftwaffe the British Med Fleet wouldn't have proven a crucial factor. There's combined operations for you.

                          Regarding submarines, I think WWII history suggests it would be rather easier for British subs to lurk in the Channel at night torpedoing German supply ships than it would be for German subs to intercept fast naval units, but your mileage may vary!
                          My board games blog: The Brass Castle

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Exorcist
                            ...Submarines are not defensive weapons, and when used as such they have always been failures, sometimes incredible failures. They are OFFENSIVE weapons in every sense, and damn good ones...
                            Where the water permits them to dive and hide after attack, certainly. But the inshore waters on both sides of the Channel are extremely shallow and a U-Boat could be seen below the water from the air. These shallows would also have made escape after attackking almost impossible. Applies to both submarine forces.

                            As noted elsewhere, the Germans had a rather strong submarine force available to try to counter Normandy in 1944 but they declined to get 'stuck in' because of the nature of the waters.

                            Originally posted by Exorcist
                            ...Every argument that the invasion would have failed is based on the assumption that a surface fleet can operate freely in hostile airspace. Altho that is indeed the assumption in 1940,Crete and Malaya prove otherwise. If two German Divisions could do what they did in Crete with no naval support at all.... bleh, forget it. ____ the whole round and round that never has and never will stop....
                            But at Crete and Malaya the invaders were not opposed by enemy air forces. The Pacific shows very clearly what could happen to slow moving convoys when opposed by concentrated air attack. Guadalcanal shows that even a relatively modest air force that can get through to the transports can wreck havoc. The US Navy was very careful to ensure air superiority before moving the transports in for the invasion.
                            The Purist

                            Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by The Purist View Post
                              The Pacific shows very clearly what could happen to slow moving convoys when opposed by concentrated air attack. Guadalcanal shows that even a relatively modest air force that can get through to the transports can wreck havoc. The US Navy was very careful to ensure air superiority before moving the transports in for the invasion.
                              I was expecting this to happen to us several times.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                                I was expecting this to happen to us several times.
                                Note that in three days, 129 fighters and 207 level bombers were only able to sink 8 transports and 4 destroyers... and this in 1943 when air forces are much better equipped and trained to attack naval targets. Quite an air effort to sink 12 vessels. The manpower losses, however, do show how deadly sinking troop carrying vessels can be.
                                The Purist

                                Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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